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Carla Ann McGill

Thinking of 9/11*

Again the autumn brings unfilled
substance to California, a return to owls,
to the burning gold of dawn.
Like fire, like pain,
like fragile birds
struck down in the wrath of winds.

With it the sound of hopes stirring
and dying on sidewalks, children
opening lunches, climbing the jungle gym.
With it the glassy fields
beaten by dry winds,
the bruised purple of mountains
held up in the sun’s harsh grimace.

Books, open and torn,
and bewildered paper
making aimless pathways
to the warm dirt or cold concrete.
Charted geometric points
dissolve without explanation;
words form, disintegrate
like chaotic music.

Could there be a place so empty,
an abyss in the void? A pressure
in the nothingness, with
no openings, no exits?

Somewhere in Iowa,
the farmer swallows coffee,
goes out to check the milking machines
while persistent chickens
take down seeds so small
and trivial, but they eat
with confidence. The farmer,
he looks up, and before his crusty    
hands wipe his forehead,
before his cap is back on,
before he climbs up into
his International Harvester,
he sees heaven, straightforward,
beaming, and wide open.

*"Thinking of 9/11" appeared in Nebo: A Literary Journal, Volume 36, Number 32, Spring 2018. 

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